International DUO Directors Meet for Conference in Essen, Germany
At the end of last month, in Essen, Germany, the National DUO directors from all the European countries gathered for a conference. This was actually the second conference held for the European directors, the last one happening at the time of the Copenhagen Guru Puja last year. Things had changed a lot in a year though. While the first conference was to introduce the idea of DUO becoming an international organization, this year's conference was held to activate it.
The first order of business was the post-Guru Puja festival which will also take place in Essen. It was really the first time anyone had ever tried to plan a festival for Europe. Past festivals lacked planning and coordination so that, when the premies went, they had to spend a lot of energy just getting comfortable, finding accommodations and food. This year the tactic was totally different: we've built up an international organization, by all means let's use the communication we've been able to establish to cooperate for this festival. Food, housing and a back-to-back, three-day program had been thought out thoroughly, and the directors put themselves to understanding it well enough to take back to their countries.
Time left over was devoted to the practical details of getting DUO together over the next few months - ironing out communication problems, accounting principles, relationships with governments, propagation strategies, publication needs, shipping costs, etc, etc, etc… .
But the main theme, never lost throughout the conference, was the ideal of cooperation in DUO. And not mere cooperation either, but cooperation on the highest level. Where boundaries, languages, ideals and individual needs merge into a common awareness of a higher goal, Maharaj Ji's goal, where there are "one million minds, and only one idea." Coming together, agreeing and inspiring each other to stick as close to that one idea as possible, the directors hugged each other and flew back to their homelands to try and share their inspiration.
Circle the World
Bob Mishler has been with Maharaj Ji's Mission ever since it first began in the West. "It all goes back to 1971," remembers Bob. "Maharaj Ji came down to 1560 Race Street, in Denver, to see if the place would be suitable for a mahatma to stay in, and ended up moving in himself. All of a sudden I found myself driving him around and found him giving me instructions about what I was supposed to do now that Divine Light Mission was operating out of my house." And Bob has been with Guru Maharaj Ji ever since; Maharaj Ji first instructing him to organize DLM in America, and then to start DUO - in America, and then around the world.
"I remember asking him at the time, 'Well, are you going to tell me what your plan is; are you going to make it clear to me what it is you intend to do?' And he said, Oh yeah, sure. But he didn't tell me when! And he still hasn't told me when. He said yeah, I'm gonna tell you - but he didn't tell me when he was going to do that, so I've been playing this guessing game with Maharaj Ji for the last - what is it - going on four years now."
Last month Bob returned from India, spent a day in Los Angeles, came to Denver for a few days, went back to L.A for Father's Day, came back to Denver for 24 hours before going to an international conference in Germany, before going to Caracas, Venezuela to check out the Guru Puja festival site, before returning to Los Angeles, before returning to Los Angeles, before returning to Denver where he's expected to 'settle down' for a few weeks. The purpose of all the globe-racing Bob does is his attempt to fulfill the mammoth agya Guru Maharaj Ji has given him this year - to organize Divine United Organization throughout the world; to make Maharaj Ji's mission a truly international movement.
While in Essen, Germany, meeting with all the European DUO directors on the post-Guru Puja festival site, Bob gave some beautifully inspiring satsang about the nature of our path and how, amazingly, it fits perfectly with the international development of DUO.
"For a while I didn't really know what would come out of the agya Guru Maharaj Ji had given me to internationalize the Mission. I remember some of the reactions I got from some of the National Directors around the world - 'What do we need this internationalization for anyway,' and 'It's going to be completely impossible,' and, 'How can you possibly have any perspective all the way off there in the United States?' Actually I could relate to it very well, because I was dragging my feet in a similar way. Right from the outset, I resisted it myself: 'We have our hands full in America,' I would say, 'We're not ready to take on the world'.'
But Maharaj Ji insisted. And though I began almost halfheartedly, giving satsang at Copenhagen Guru Puja, I was really surprised at how much that energy was in the flow.
"Over the past year I've been moving around so much that I've actually visited most of the countries in the world. And the thing that I've seen is that premies everywhere are experiencing something that is different from all the people around them, wherever they are. And that the thing that premies are experiencing everywhere is the same.
"It's interesting. A lot of the problems we experience in dealing with ourselves in our effort to realize Knowledge, and in dealing with each other learning cooperation in our community, in our own country and between our countries, are a result of the subconscious patterns and group habits that we inherit from the country, circumstance and culture of wherever we were born. We begin to see that these cultural patterns affect us. They affect the way we see things. They are in effect our limitations. And only when we go beyond these limitations can we begin to experience reality.
"Maharaj Ji has really shown me that we have to get completely knocked out of our mind. You know? Completely. I don't mean that we lose our ability to discriminate, that our intellectual faculties fail and we become a blithering idiot. We just have to get released from all the concepts in our mind that keep us from experiencing what's really happening in this world.
"The world is only the way it is because we think that way. Because we agree on the same concepts, the world stays pretty much the same. Because there are four billion people who think that it's that way, that's the way we continue to perceive it. What Guru Maharaj Ji's doing to change the world is changing people's concepts. He has to break them out. Because the nature of reality isn't determined by the concepts. It's determined by consciousness. And consciousness is completely unlimited.
"And that's why when we start dealing on an international level, in Divine United Organization, it's such an incredible opportunity. We can go beyond our concepts, our self-identification; the very things that limit us from reality. It's an incredible opportunity to get our horizons stretched and our perspective broadened. It brings with it lots of opportunity for real illumination.
"… What's happening in DUO is something that couldn't happen anywhere else. It's giving us the capacity to go beyond the subconscious patterns that limit most of the people of the world. To evolve to a plane where actually we are all experiencing one conscious reality. Together.
"We spend a lot of time on just the superficial details of what we're doing. And that's the way most of life is. But if you're taking the opportunity to try to do constant meditation I mean besides in the morning and evening - then you begin to realize that there's something much, much deeper than all of the superficial activity going on in this world. Something that's incredible, and that's the power we call Holy Name which is all aspects of life and death, of light and dark at the same time.
"At least for me, remembering that from time to time gives me this kind of incredible exhilaration and feeling of awe that would be, I suppose, something akin to a tingling sense of anticipation and fear and all sorts of things combined. To just know how incredible this life is, how incredible this human existence is.
"You see, Maharaj Ji is in this world to change it. The basis of his organization is so deep that it goes beyond our capacity to talk or think about it. You know, there are a lot of international organizations, but what is the basis of their international cooperation? The thing that's brought us together is the thing that's making the whole world and all of this universe possible.
"You could say that this organization could change the world by changing the way people think. That's no easy job, changing the way someone thinks. In order for a person to get beyond his subconscious semi-states of awareness and be aware that this human life is for being completely, totally conscious, is something that takes a lot of work. But that's exactly what's going to happen, that's exactly what Guru Maharaj Ji intends to do.
"At Copenhagen last year, Guru Maharaj Ji said very strongly, 'I challenge this whole world that the only way to peace is through this Knowledge.' He stood up there and shouted it. And it's not the first time we've heard him say it. But how many of us are finally getting to the point where we can begin to fathom the fact that he isn't kidding around?"